With its rich cultural history and numerous archaeological sights, Peru has many quality museums displaying thousands of artifacts. From the pre-Columbian societies to the the Incas and the Spanish Inquisition, these stories are all on display in the country’s fascinating museums. Here’s our pick of the best.
Peruse an 18th century vice-royal building looking at pre-Columbian art and artifacts. The museum holds galleries that give a chronological overview of thousands of years of pre-Columbian Peruvian history. The museum is famous for its collection of erotic pottery and pre-Columbian jewelry. It also has a gift shop where you can buy quality reproductions of the art on display.
Learning about the Incas is a must for anyone visiting Cusco, considered “the belly button of world” by the native people. While there are other museums about the Incas in Cusco, this one is possibly the best, with a central location close to Plaza de Armas. Go back in time and experience the life of the Incas.
This museum has Lima’s largest collection of photography, paintings, pottery, decorations and artifacts. In addition to pre-Columbian and Colonial art, MALI also has a large collection of contemporary Peruvian art. With multiple areas to experience, plan to spend more than a couple of hours exploring the entirety of this museum.
This museum is based around the frozen mummy Juanita, a 12-year-old Inca girl sacrificed to the gods. You’ll be given a tour that begins with a video and will then be taken through the museum, looking at various Incan artifacts. The climax of the tour is seeing the Juanita, the frozen mummy.
During the Spanish Inquisition, heretics and heathens were tortured and burnt at the stake for their religious beliefs. This museum takes you on a tour through this dark period of Peruvian history, displaying the torture devices used by the Spanish on those who did not accept Christianity. Walk through the eerie hallways to find mannequins placed in these Spanish torture devices. The museum offers tours that further explain the effects the Inquisition had on Peruvian history.
The best museum in the north of Peru, Museo Huacas de Moche houses the findings from one of Peru’s most fruitful archaeological sites: the tomb of the Lord of Sipán. He was an important leader in the Moche civilization, buried with ornaments, art and other treasures – so much that they had to open a museum to house it all. It is a fascinating place that is a must-visit when traveling through the area.
The museum is Miguel Mujica Gallo’s private collection of gold, silver, textiles and precious metals made throughout his lifetime. Despite the accusations that the majority of gold pieces in the museum are fakes, it is an essential visit if only to see some of the gold riches that drove the Spanish mad with greed. There is also a weapons museum on its grounds, with over 20,000 colonial weapons.
MATE is Barranco’s art gallery dedicated to the great Peruvian photographer Mario Testino, who hails from Lima. The gallery is the largest collection of his work with seven rooms dedicated to his intimate photographs of celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Kate Moss, Orlando Bloom and many more. A room dedicated to Testino’s photographs of Peruvians has recently been added, alongside a space dedicated to guest artists.